Closer Readings Commentary

EDSITEment's Top Picks for the Classroom

The dog days of summer press on but the new school year is right around the corner and with it the imperatives of the Common Core State Standards. Here are several articles and organizational websites that have crossed the radar of the EDSITEment team this year. They offer excellent advice into how to implement the Common Core and more importantly give insight into why the Common Core is being put into action.


Closing in on Close Reading, by Nancy Boyles

Common Core State Standards assert it's important to teach students to read texts closely and to make sure even young readers truly comprehend, not just decode what they read. But guidance about how to make close reading happen usually centers on secondary-level classes. That’s too late! The time to start building these habits is elementary school. Three things elementary teachers can do to foster close reading: (1) use more short text; (2) aim for independent reading by posing questions that look at structure, craft, and integration of ideas throughout the work; and (3) teach students to observe and analyze details clearly in anything they read.

For Libraries, the Common Core Presents Extraordinary Opportunity, by Andrew Albanese

Common Core practices are nothing new to school librarians. The skills the CCSS require are techniques that they have been practicing for years. “A common phrase that has been circulating throughout the library world is, ‘We are the Common Core.’ And that is the truth.” The advent of the CCSS simply allows librarians to highlight what they already do. Public librarians also have the opportunity to outreach by highlighting the print and digital resources that are available for free. Collaboration is essential between public and school libraries to share resources, and between educators and librarians to push for the support they need.

The Humanities: Why Such a Hard Sell? by David J. Ferrero

Schools have traditionally had the goal of helping students grow in three areas: personal, economic, and civic. In recent years, however, the economic realm has taken precedence, with careers and credentials becoming a focus of education policy. In this article, Ferrero laments the lack of support for the more personal and civic aims of education. A strong education in the humanities can bring these forgotten values to the forefront without depriving students of the important economic benefits of education.

Organizational Websites

Guiding Implementation of Common Core State Standards by Core Knowledge

This list provides Core Knowledge resources to implement effective Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy and includes the following features:

  • Unpacking CCSS in Early Grades
  • Using Core Knowledge to Implement: Alignments, Publisher’s Criteria and Sample Lessons
  • CCSS evaluation rubric to help align curriculum with the Common Core

P21 Common Core Toolkit, by The Partnership for 21st Century Skills

This guide to aligning the Common Core State Standards with the framework for 21st Century Skills offers a variety of tools and timely resources. It includes the following features:

  • Alignment Overview: A high-level summary of how the P21 framework and the Common Core State Standards support each other;
  • Common Core / P21 Examples: Lesson vignettes that demonstrate “what it looks like” to align instructional practices with both the common core and P21 skills;
  • Common Core Resources: Compilation of useful links for states and districts working to implement the Common Core State Standards;
  • Assessment Resources: Compilation of background reading on the issue of assessment and the 4Cs.

Resources for Understanding the Common Core State Standards, by Edutopia Staff

This is an educator's guide to websites, organizations, articles, and other resources that look at the new system of standards and how they will be assessed. It is designed to help you make sense of the initiative and join the conversation. The Edutopia staff has included the following features along with numerous other clearinghouses of information and articles by expert authors and master teachers.

Common Core State Standards Initiative website

A comprehensive and well-organized site. You can download PDFs of the English Language Arts Standards and the Mathematics Standards; see an interactive map of which states have adopted the standards; read a list of myths about the standards; and check out a FAQ that addresses many questions about them. You can also sign up to get a bi-weekly newsletter with Common Core updates from the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Videos on the Common Core

Hunt Institute's YouTube Channel -- If you're looking for short, accessible videos to explain the Common Core Standards, check this one out. Here you will find more than 30 videos, from brief animated overviews, to details on the standards' specifics, to Spanish translations. "Shaping rigorous, world-class education standards" is one of the Hunt Institute's key initiatives, so it has done great work making the Common Core understandable. The institute even wrote a Video Vignette User Guide that helps break down the content of the videos.

The Teaching Channel -- Looking for more videos? This well-known site offers more than 100 great videos about the Common Core, from broad overviews to lesson ideas for specific standards.